American Planning Association History

A Brief History of the American Planning Association

On October 1, 1978, the American Planning Association emerged from the consolidation of the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials. Both memberships and boards had overwhelmingly approved the consolidation earlier in the year and decided to create a single independent, not-for-profit educational organization that was:

... organized exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and scientific purposes to advance the art and science of planning and the activity of planning — physical, economic, and social — at the local, regional, state and national levels.

Within APA would be a professional institute — the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) — that would be responsible for the national certification of professional planners.

Although AIP was incorporated in 1917 as the American City Planning Institute (renamed the American Institute of Planners in 1939), and ASPO in 1934, we trace our roots even further back to 1909 and the first National Conference on City Planning in Washington, D.C. From that and subsequent conferences, the organized planning movement emerged.

This model of a single organization — a "big tent" for everyone interested in planning, with an internal institute to advance the interests of the profession — was unique at the time and has attracted great interest around the world.

The planning movement has been well served by APA. We have grown from an organization of 13,000 to more than 40,000 members, of whom 17,000 are certified by AICP.

Collections of historical papers about the beginnings of these organizations reside at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the national planning archives at Cornell University.

Our Mission

Creating great communities for all.

Our Vision

APA advances planning through leadership in education, research, advocacy, and ethical practice.

What We Do

  • Advocate for planning at the national level and support chapters', divisions', and members' efforts at the state and local levels
  • File amicus briefs in selected court cases
  • Promote good planning through vigorous public information and education programs.
  • Produce digital and print materials that describe the outcomes of good planning, educate the nation about planning, and reinforce the individual and collective efforts of APA members
  • Assure excellence in the field — and raise the stature of the planning profession — by supporting the efforts of the Planning Accreditation Board and emphasizing the importance of AICP certification for practicing planners
  • Develop accessible, affordable continuing education programs
  • Support certified planners in their pursuit of Certification Maintenance
  • Promote a diverse workforce by bringing employers and job seekers together through our Career Services
  • Assure excellence in local decision making by offering training, information, and support to planning commissioners, elected officials, and engaged citizens
  • Seek national and international partnerships to advance the planning movement and principles of sustainability, inclusion, and nondiscrimination
  • Address issues of social equity in our publications and diversity forums and on our website
  • Work to attract and retain minority members so our membership will reflect the nation's diversity
  • Enhance the state of planning knowledge by identifying and fulfilling a vigorous agenda of applied research
  • Share research results with our subscribers, members, and beyond

Past Presidents of APA and AICP

APA Presidents

Dorothy Walker, APA President 1978–1979

Michael P. Brooks, FAICP, APA President 1979–1980

Richard T. Anderson, FAICP, President 1980–1981

Irving Hand, FAICP, APA President 1981–1982

Fred P. Bosselman, FAICP, APA President 1982–1983

Robert C. Einsweiler, APA President 1983–1984

Bruce W. McClendon, FAICP, APA President 1984–1985

Daniel Lauber, AICP, APA President 1985–1986

Norman Krumholz, APA President 1986–1987

James B. Duncan, APA President 1987–1989

Stuart Meck, FAICP, APA President 1989–1991

Connie B. Cooper, FAICP, APA President 1991–1993

Sam Casella, FAICP, APA President 1993–1995

Richard Codd, APA President 1995–1997

Eric Damian Kelly, FAICP, APA President 1997–1999

Joanne E. Garnett, FAICP, APA President 1999–2001

Bruce W. McClendon, FAICP, APA President 2001–2003

Mary Kay Peck, FAICP, APA President 2003–2005

David M. Siegel, FAICP, APA President 2005–2007

Robert B. Hunter, FAICP, APA President 2007–2009

Bruce A. Knight, FAICP, APA President 2009–2011

Mitch Silver, FAICP, APA President 2011–2013

William Anderson, FAICP, APA President 2013–2015

Carol A. Rhea, FAICP, APA President 2015–2016

Cynthia Bowen, FAICP, APA President 2017–2018

AICP Chairs and Presidents

Barbara Lukermann, FAICP, AICP Chair 1978–1979

Lawrence D. Mann, FAICP, AICP Chair 1979–1980

Michael A. Carroll, AICP Chair 1980–1981

Margarita P. McCoy, FAICP, AICP Chair 1981–1982

Floyd Lapp, FAICP, AICP, AICP Chair 1982–1984

Carol J. Thomas, FAICP, AICP Chair 1984–1986

Melvin R. Levin, AICP, AICP President 1986–1988

Dwight A. Merriam, FAICP, AICP President 1988–1990

Sumner Sharpe, FAICP, AICP President 1990–1992

Daniel Lauber, AICP, AICP President 1992–1994

Joanne Garnett, FAICP, AICP President 1994–1995

William W. Bowdy, FAICP, AICP President 1995–1997

Roger Hedrick, FAICP, AICP President 1997–1999

Norman Krumholz, AICP, AICP President 1999–2001

Sam Casella, FAICP, AICP President 2001–2003

Daniel Lauber, AICP, AICP President 2003–2005

Sue Schwartz, FAICP, AICP President 2005–2007

Graham Billingsley, FAICP, AICP President 2007–2009

Paul Inghram, AICP, AICP President 2009–2011

Anna Breinich, FAICP, AICP President 2011–2013

Lee Brown, FAICP, AICP President 2013–2015

Valerie Hubbard, FAICP, AICP President 2015–2016

Glenn E. Larson, AICP, AICP President 2017–2018


Professional Development and AICP

The American Institute of Certified Planners has responsibilities for accreditation (through the Planning Accreditation Board), certification, professional standards, and Certification Maintenance.

Conferences and Education

APA's National Planning Conference, held each spring in a major American city, brings together thousands of planners, planning commissioners, appointed and elected officials, and students for sessions, workshops, and networking.

APA education also includes webinars, workshops, and a wide variety of on-demand planning education choices.

Outreach, Policy, and Partnerships

APA educates policy makers and partners on planning issues and advocates policy changes to incorporate planning principles at all levels of government.

We educate media and the public about the importance of planning and the role of planners in shaping our nation's communities and give planners tools to communicate effectively with officials, community residents, the media, and other stakeholders.

APA recognizes successful planning initiatives and efforts during National Community Planning Month in October and through the Great Places in America and National Planning Awards programs.


APA's extensive planning research program includes projects sponsored by agencies and other associations. APA Research is home to the three National Centers for Planning: Green Communities, Hazards Planning, and Planning and Community Health.


APA delivers its flagship magazine, Planning, in print and online formats 11 times a year. Other publications include the monthly Zoning Practice, the quarterly Journal of the American Planning Association, and the weekly member e-newsletter Interact. The Commissioner, a bi-monthly newsletter for planning officials, appears both in Planning and as a separate subscription digital publication.

Our Planning Advisory Service produces four in-depth technical reports each year. PAS also publishes the bi-monthly PAS Memo.


APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Our Professional Practice, Outreach, and Policy Departments are headquartered in Washington, while Research, Communications, Marketing, Membership, Education, Conferences, Publications, Leadership, Accounting, Administration, and IT are based in Chicago.

American Planning Association
1030 15th St. NW, Suite 750 West
Washington, DC 20005

American Planning Association
205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60601